ALAMOSA — Describing him as “the meanest of them all,” Alma Salazar identified Robert Martinez as one of the men who assaulted and killed her boyfriend and shot her, leaving her for dead last August.
Martinez, 29, faces numerous charges including first-degree murder for the shooting death of Mathias Fritz, 40, on August 9, 2018, in his apartment at 175 1/2 South Broadway in East Alamosa. Another codefendant in the case has named Martinez as the one who beat Fritz on the head with a wrench before taking him into one of the bathrooms in the apartment and shooting him. Martinez allegedly took Salazar into the other bathroom in the apartment and shot her. She survived.
Salazar was one of several witnesses who testified Friday during a hearing before Alamosa County Judge Daniel Walzl, who found probable cause to bind Martinez’s case over to district court. His first appearance in district court will be April 17.
Charges against him include first-degree murder, kidnapping, robbery, felony menacing and multiple crimes of violence enhancers in connection with the murder of Mathias Fritz, 40, and the assault and shooting of Alma Salazar.
Also charged with murder and numerous other charges in connection with the Fritz/Salazar shootings are Shem Brown, 26, and Shawndon McVey, 25 who allegedly accompanied Martinez to the Fritz apartment to rob Fritz of cash and drugs, and Philip Medina, 36, who had allegedly been at the Fritz apartment earlier that night.
District Attorney Crista Newmyer-Olsen, Deputy District Attorney Kelsey Waldorf and Martinez’s attorney David Lipka questioned witnesses during Friday’s lengthy hearing. Newmyer-Olsen told the judge so far there are 18,000 pages of discovery in this case, with more expected including reports from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI.)
Newmyer-Olsen asked that Martinez be held without bail, and Lipka asked that the court consider a reasonable bond. Judge Walzl denied bail at this stage in the proceedings.
Girlfriend recalls assault, memory blocked of shooting
“He was my friend and then my boyfriend,” Salazar said of Fritz as she began sharing what she could remember of the night he was killed. She and Fritz had been dating about two months at the time of his death, she said, but she had known him for years.
She said about 3 a.m. on August 8 she couldn’t sleep so called Fritz to pick her up and take her to his apartment, where she remained until after the shooting the following morning. Before going to the apartment they stopped at the residence of Javiel Maes, Fritz’s former roommate, to try to pick up his key to Fritz’s apartment, but Maes said he didn’t have it.
Salazar watched movies and cleaned Fritz’s apartment until he came home the evening of August 8. They had a late dinner after 10 p.m. that evening with a man Salazar did not know (and was later identified as Medina) who then left.
Also on the evening of August 8 Salazar said she took some methamphetamines.
After dinner Salazar was in the kitchen doing dishes upstairs in Fritz’s two-story apartment when she “heard something happening downstairs.”
Salazar then saw two men walk in with their faces covered so she could only see their eyes. One of them was holding zip ties. Then Fritz walked up the stairs. “Blood was just pouring down his face,” Salazar recalled.
Accompanying the masked men was a man whose face was uncovered, and Salazar pointed to Martinez in the courtroom and said he was the one. She said she had seen him at Maes’ house earlier but did not know him.
The men had Salazar and Fritz go into the kitchen where they took the couple’s cell phones and made them get on their knees. The masked men then tied the couple’s hands behind their backs with the zip ties and asked for the keys to the safe. Salazar said she saw the unmasked man walking by with one of Fritz’s guns.
When Newmyer-Olsen asked her what she thought was going to happen, Salazar said “that we were going to die.”
“All I remember is them saying ‘take them to the bathroom,’ but I don’t remember,” Salazar said. “It all happened really fast.”
She said she did not know who said it, but she heard someone tell her boyfriend, “You pissed too many people off.”
She described Martinez’s demeanor as “mean, awful.”
She added, “I don’t remember who shot me.”
The next thing she recalled, she said, was “waking up in my blood” in a small bathroom next to the kitchen. She made it down the stairs and went outside to get help, she said. A man in a car driving by stopped and helped her walk to the Loaf ‘N Jug where she collapsed on the floor. She was subsequently flown to Colorado Springs for treatment for a gunshot wound to her face and neck and spent about three weeks in the hospital.
Salazar later gave a description to a sketch artist of the man who whose face was not covered, and when shown Martinez’s photo later, she identified him as the same person who was at Fritz’s apartment that night.
Wrench in the lake
Alamosa County Sheriff Deputy Joshua Baier testified about speaking with a woman who contacted authorities to say she had information about an August 9th incident. She told Baier one of her friends (McVey) told her he had hit somebody over the head with a wrench and she saw him throw something into Home Lake and believed it was the wrench. She told Baier she also saw McVey put a shotgun by the pier. She also saw a text message from Brown on McVey’s phone talking about burning their clothes.
CBI agent: Salazar identified Martinez
The morning of Thursday, August 9 CBI Agent Kevin Torres came to assist the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office and specifically Detective Sergeant Sam Coffman, lead investigator in the Fritz murder.
Torres said in assisting Coffman, he interviewed Maes twice and Salazar five or six times.
Torres’ recollection of the interview with Maes corresponded to Salazar’s account that she and Fritz had gone to Maes’ new residence (1425 Tremont Avenue) after he moved out from Fritz’s apartment and asked for the key to Fritz’s apartment. Maes also told Torres that he was aware Fritz owned firearms, a 9-millimeter handgun and a shotgun.
Maes knew Martinez, as they both lived at 1425 Tremont along with Martinez’s girlfriend. Maes called Martinez “Primo Rob.” He also told Torres that Martinez and Medina were close, calling each other brothers.
Maes told the agent that Martinez owed Fritz money for drugs (meth) and Fritz had gone to the Tremont house the night before he was killed to try and get some of that money. Maes said Fritz was a drug dealer in Alamosa dealing meth and heroin. (Torres said agents found what appeared to be drug ledgers, residue and packaging to substantiate that assertion.)
Agent Torres’ first interview with Salazar was on Friday, August 10, the day after the shootings when she was in intensive care in the Colorado Springs hospital.
At that time Salazar told Torres that two Hispanic males were at the apartment along with two men whose faces were covered. One of the men whose faces was not covered had had dinner with Salazar and Fritz, she told Torres. The other told Fritz he had “pissed too many people off.”
“She described that person as being the meanest of them all,” Torres said.
Torres spoke with Salazar next on August 14 when she was scheduled to have reconstructive surgery. She told Torres that she had been in the kitchen doing dishes when two male wearing masks and one not wearing a mask came up the stairs with Fritz, who was bloody in his head area. She and Fritz were put on the kitchen floor and tied up, and then the two were separated, and she was taken into a bathroom, and the next thing she remembered was waking up and crawling out of the house to get help. She also told Torres that she had been struck in the arm and head before she was taken to the bathroom.
Agent Torres said Salazar gave a description of the one who was the “meanest of the bunch” to a sketch artist and in a subsequent interview on September 14 of last year identified him from a photo. Torres had four photos, two of McVey, one of an unrelated investigation he was conducting and one of Martinez. He said Martinez was not “on his radar” in connection with the murder at that time, but authorities were just trying to follow numerous leads and find out who might have known Fritz and been to his apartment before.
Salazar had no reaction with three of the photos, but Torres said when she saw the photo of Martinez, her hand started trembling, she started crying, she began breathing rapidly and she became very upset. She identified Martinez as the one without a mask.
“She said she was sure it was him,” Torres said.
McVey interview also points to Martinez
Agent Torres, a long with another agent, also interviewed McVey. McVey had been at a hospital in Colorado Springs and after he was discharged, Torres interviewed him on October 29, 2018, at the Colorado Springs Police Department. Clips of that interview were shown during Friday’s hearing.
McVey told the CBI agents that he was part of a robbery and had a shotgun but it was not loaded, only for show. He was wearing a bandana over his face, he said. Fritz had a gun that was taken from him, and he was beaten over the head with a wrench, McVey said. McVey said he was not the one who did that.
“We were supposed to take drugs, but he started hitting him over the head. His whole head was bleeding,” McVey told the agents.
“It wasn’t premeditated,” he said. “I didn’t premeditate sh--.”
McVey said his take of the robbery was $300 and 33 grams of meth.
He told the agents Martinez was the one who fired the gun. He said he saw Fritz in the bathtub in one of the bathrooms and he saw Martinez standing over the woman in the other bathroom, and she was begging for her life.
McVey added, “I didn’t see him shoot either of them. I turned away.”
McVey was also later shot by Martinez, he told Agent Torres, because he wanted to go to the police. Martinez would probably have shot him again and killed him if it were not for Brown’s intervention, McVey said. McVey added that he and Brown had known each other since they were young, and they were both approached by Martinez to do a job, which they understood would involve “a lot of drugs and probably money.” It was supposed to be easy, in and out, he said, and nobody would get hurt.
Agent Torres said McVey was concerned about his safety and that of his family, and he is not being held in the same detention facilities as the other co-defendants.
Autopsy of a murder
Dr. Travis Danielsen, forensic pathologist who performed Fritz’s autopsy on August 10, 2018, determined the cause of death to be gunshot wound and blunt force injuries to the head, specifically lacerations over the scalp and multiple lacerations of the scalp. In talking about the severity of the blunt force injuries, Dr. Danielsen said, “there’s fractures of the skull that radiate in multiple directions and there’s depressed skull fracture.” He said it would have been possible for the victim to have died from these injuries alone.
Dr. Danielsen found the manner of death to be homicide based on the findings from the autopsy coupled with the information that Fritz was found dead in his shower with his hands tied behind his back, a gunshot wound to his head and blunt force injuries. It appeared the shot had been fired from 1-3 feet of the victim, he testified.
Asked by Lipka about drugs in Fritz’s system, Dr. Danielsen said the toxicology report showed meth and amphetamines (more of the first and less of the second) as well as small amounts of THC associated with marijuana, hydrocodone and cotinine indicating tobacco. There was no alcohol in his system.
Det. Sgt. follows evidence, leads
Detective Sergeant Coffman was the final witness on Friday. He initially responded to a call about an injured female. He spoke briefly to Salazar before she was flown out, and she told him she and her boyfriend had been attacked but at that point she could not remember his name or anyone who attacked them. Through speaking with her father Coffman found out the name of her boyfriend and his address. Upon arriving at the address, officers found the door unsecured and lights on. As they secured the scene, they found large amounts of blood in several areas of the house and found Fritz’s body in the shower of one of the bathrooms.
Coffman described the layout of Fritz’s apartment and each room as well as items found at the scene including bullets and casings from a 9-milimeter weapon, zip ties, ledgers and notebook with name and numbers, running accounts of money owed and paid, a safe with a large supply of ammunition in it, and large amounts of blood in the kitchen as well as the small bathroom where Salazar had been shot, in addition to blood smears in other areas of the house.
During follow up interviews Coffman found out that Fritz had been selling large quantities of drugs and was expected to receive at least 10 ounces of heroin and an unknown amount of meth on the day he died.
Coffman talked about numerous leads he followed including information from someone in Rio Grande County who provided a note that put Brown at the scene and indicated he knew what had happened and another person who had sold Brown a 9-milimeter gun she had stolen from her grandfather. She delivered it to Brown and his friend who said they had a job to do that would not take long. When Brown finally returned he said things had gone bad and did not want to talk about it.
Through surveillance footage and interviews Coffman also found the vehicle where McVey had been shot, and it contained large amounts of blood. During the investigation and arrest of Brown, items of evidence were recovered including two black and white bandanas, face masks, holster, 9-millimeter magazine and pistol.
Judge Walzl scheduled a preliminary hearing on the charge involving Martinez’s alleged shooting of McVey for March 4.